Do Harm Reduction Programs Work?


Abstinence-based programs and harm reduction. Not only is this a hot topic in the world of addiction. It's also two of the leading addiction recovery strategies used when treating drug addicts and alcoholics. While each approach has had success, we use abstinence about 75% and harm reduction 25% of the time. It isn't so much that i'm against harm reduction, I believe that particular program fits certain types of situations and abstinence fits others.


Abstinence Programs vs. Harm Reduction

What's the difference?


Harm Reduction Defined:

Harm reduction is a approach aimed at reducing the risks and harmful effects associated with substance use and addictive behaviors for the individual. We know not everyone is in a place to completely abstain; and therefore, it is best to take steps to reduce the risks to the person and others when the individual chooses to partake in the addictive substance. 

Example: Medication assisted treatment for people addicted to heroin or pain pills

Basically, instead of trying to get the person completely off of the substance they're addicted to, they will be put on another from of opiate to avoid the problem getting bigger and growing.



Abstinence Defined:

Refraining from an activity which is known to be harmful and addictive. Doing this involves not taking a particular substance. Many people feel like you have to get these mind altering substances out of the way to have a chance at getting sober.


To take a deeper dive into this topic watch the video and let us know which program you take a side to.


Amber Hollingsworth,

Hope for Families Recovery Center


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